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Green projects in London

  • Date: 17 December 2009
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: London
Angela Palmer and Ghost Forest Angela Palmer and Ghost Forest, Photo: Conor Masterson

As the dust settles on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, we thought we would give a round-up of some of the Arts Council funded London projects that have been inspired by concerns over climate change.

Trafalgar square has hosted two Arts Council funded projects over recent months, the first being Ghost Forest.

Created by Angela Palmer, this is an installation of seven tree stumps logged from a tropical rainforest in Ghana. From their temporary resting place in Trafalgar Square, the installation continued its journey to Copenhagen for the United Nation's Climate Change Conference, gaining media attention along the way and presenting a powerful metaphor for climate change.

Drawing crowds to Trafalgar Square currently is The Ice Bear Project, a life-size polar bear ice sculpture. Expertly carved from ice and bronze by Mark Coreth, the giant polar bear will gradually melt, leaving its bear bones exposed, making a poignant statement about human impact on global warming.

Three further interactive climate change inspired art installations have recently been funded by the Arts Council through Grants for the arts. Dave Lawrence received an award to create Kryolab2, an interactive installation which recently exhibited in Poland. The installation brought together bioart, ice sculpture and sonic art and investigated delicate relationships in the Arctic ecosystem.

Tom Corby received funding for Coriolis Drift, a project which will map environmental change in the polar regions. This will be presented as an interactive visualisation of sweeping seas and ice flows, drawing upon both publicly available debates on climate change and live scientific data from the Antarctic Ocean. It will be screened nationally and internationally during 2011.

Through Grants for the arts, Hayley Newman received an award to create Café Carbon, a climate change inspired musical. The work was performed by The Gluttons on trains, in bars and in the streets of Copenhagen. Music was played on a portable gramophone record player using hand-cut records and on instruments made from recycled materials and kitchen implements. Through their project, the Gluttons are calling for a return to moderate consumption.

Closer to home, Arcola Theatre, one of our Regularly Funded Organisations, launched Future Arcola this week. This is a ground breaking programme to develop the world’s first carbon neutral theatre. Ambitious plans are being drawn up to build a new Arcola Theatre to be located at the heart of Dalston, close to the new Dalston Square development and a new East London Line station. The project is part of a wider London Development Agency (LDA) funded project Making Space in Dalston.

In praise of the launch, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said:

‘As world leaders gather in Copenhagen, Arcola Theatre is at the forefront of how London's arts organisations can champion the environment. We have to take robust yet practical steps to make our city more energy efficient. This has the added benefit of playing a pivotal role in the wider redevelopment of this part of the city, making the urban realm more pleasant. Three cheers for Arcola for raising the bar.’

Ben Todd, Executive Director of Arcola Theatre, added:

‘Wrapped around the main stage will be dynamic spaces to accommodate our ever-growing environmental sustainability and community engagement programmes. Our aim is to create a place Da Vinci might call home where creative people across multiple disciplines drive innovation for a sustainable and equitable future.’